Somehow, somewhere along the way, my husband and I decided to give up sugar for Lent this year. I
maintain that it was all his idea, a way of getting back at me for inviting him to join me in giving up meat through Lent a few years ago. It’s been an interesting journey for us, peering through the jars and tins in our cupboard to find what has been hidden and catching ourselves the moment before (or after) spreading that pub meal with tomato sauce. Giving up sugar has required discipline and determination. And each other’s encouragement on those days when comfort foods call. Not since the Lent-without-meat have I given much thought to the power behind the discipline of Lent.
On Sunday we heard from our preacher that, for the second year in a row, Australians are the richest people in the world. I look at my life and the many opportunities I’ve had for education, relaxation, travel, comfort. I think about those things I take for granted, the things that I consider the ‘simple’ things: a piece of chocolate, air conditioning in the car, a glass of wine, another book to download on kindle or have shipped to my door.
Pope Francis said that “Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy.” A Lent without sugar has reminded me of my affluence. A Lent without sugar has reminded me of Jesus calling me out of my zones of comfort to engage with all peoples and all creation, to seek enough-for-all rather than too-much for me. One of the things I find exciting about being part of Hope Uniting Church is that we are continually asking who God is calling us to become as a congregation, where Christ is calling us to follow after in our community, and how the Spirit is blowing in our midst. With the companions I have been gifted here, I can take courage to step into new spaces and engage more fully with our neighbours and neighbourhood.
And as I see Easter approaching, with the lure of chocolate eggs (fair-trade of course) and feasting (those sugar-filled hot-cross buns), I wonder what I will carry with me from my Lenten discipline? I wonder if I will remember the privilege in which I sit and be willing to once again step out into the place God leads me? As the sun rises on Easter, will I too rise to new life with discipline and determination to live generously, joyfully and simply as I follow Christ. How will we together acknowledge how richly we are blessed and live generously in our community, with arms stretched wide in hospitality and grace?